Write What You Don’t Know – Essential Writers Tips

Writing What You Don’t Know

Writing What You Don't Know, Writing, Writers, Writing Tips, Research

Most times, a budding writer is advised explicitly or implicitly to ‘write what you know.’ I’m not sure which writing guru started selling this idea, but you know what, in my honest opinion, writing just what you know is the most stifling sort of encouragement that I can think of and here’s why I think so.

  • Writing what you know’ works, but if you are seeking to grow as a writer, you would find out soon enough that it’s self-limiting.
  • The biggest part of the fun in writing is making things up. Learning new things. Approaching an unknown terrain and finding the truth in the unknown.
  • Writing the unknown is not easy and comfortable, but it would challenge you. It could probably scare you and you may not even know where you are heading with the story, but the journey into the unknown is always worth it because it builds the backbone of the writer in you.

 

Pushing Your Boundaries

You may not know everything, but you do know a lot of things. Of course, it is essential to take inspiration where you can find it, however, your experiences should liberate your imagination and not restrict it.

Set your imagination loose. If your personal experience constrains a story to the point of it becoming lackluster, then you must emancipate your imagination and sharpen it. That’s your job as a writer to keep your imagination relevantly sharpened.

A lot of times, a writers discomfort stems from subjects about sexuality, race, gender or class. The writer feels ill-equipped to write on such subjects because they are not familiar, they don’t resemble him, so he automatically keeps to writing what he knows and sticks to safer grounds.

When a writer finds a subject intimidating, that’s precisely when the writer should explore it. Write what pushes your boundary. Write what fascinates you. Write what you can’t stop thinking about even if it’s not a safe subject.

Tips to help write what you don’t know

Organize your work

You need to devise an effective means of organizing the material that you get from your research. There are a lot of mediums and software programs such as Scrivener, yWrite, Bibisco, Plume creator, Manuskript used to organize information.

However, you need to choose and stick to one for your project in order not to waste unnecessary time switching back and forth. I have used Scrivener. It’s inexpensive and well supported by its makers.

Be Prepared to Dig Deeper

Don’t rely solely on online research. Plug into Amazon and get a list of relevant books. Look beyond your local library and check out University libraries. You may have to spend a bit to get some specific materials. Listen to local channels or international channels that talk about your interest, read, read and read some more. Check out documentaries relevant to your search and don’t shy away from contacting a publisher or writer directly to double-check information.

Research the source and background. 

Before spending valuable time or money on any material, take the time to research the author and the work on the Internet. Look out for reviews and abstracts of their work, check out their social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or website. Your findings would help you decide well ahead of time if the author has the perspective that serves your purpose.

Take note of the little details

You are writing about Africa or India, but you need to know more than the books and articles that you are reading is telling you, use image searches on Google, on YouTube, documentaries and other sources you can lay your hands on. Magnify and freeze-frame the images where possible and study them carefully, the paths, roads, nature, etc. Take note of the date of these images and videos as well as all the publication that you refer to, to avoid attributing something to a period to which it does not belong.

Make your own contacts and tap into others

Google search for related clubs around you and contact them. Consider visiting the place and talk to people. Start asking questions even before you know what exactly you are narrowing down to. People love to talk and they’ll tell you things you could not have possibly imagined. People love talking about their lives, professions, passions and sometimes even their unique stories. This is a free medium that’s fun and offers firsthand unexpected results.




Become an online eavesdropper

Dig into personal blogs, online groups, organizations’ websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. For a fiction writer, these are powerful resources, however, always cross check critical facts.

Ask for help from far and wide

Don’t restrict yourself to asking for research information from only people you know. Local tour companies and guides are a well of information about a particular place that you are writing about and you can write an email requesting information about the area or better still a phone call conversation could answer a puzzling question even as far as New Zealand.

In Conclusion

When you want to break out of a writing rut, remember to take a closer look at your past work. Are your characters typically the same? What of the plotlines, time periods and setting? Are they similar?

If you often find yourself writing about characters who are just like you with plotlines narrowed down to your experiences – though there’s nothing wrong with that –  open your mind to discover something new, fresh and fun.

You just might surprise yourself by pushing your pen beyond the edge.

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Write on The Toilet – Essential Writers Tips

Write on the toilet.

Write till you get that book done.Toilet writing, writers tips, book writing, writing habits, best practice, unconventional approach
Story Planner will help you plan your novel

Writing till you get that book done may involve some quirky habits like writing on the toilet. As unconventional and as shitty as this approach might sound, have you ever observed that loads of inspiration flood into your mind when you are on the potty or taking a shower?

Surprisingly, the onslaught of inspiration has a way of dwindling down or completely evaporating like a mist when you now settle down to get the writing done.

Here’s a tip. Have a handy notepad tucked away in the corner, preferably on the rack with your bathroom paraphernalia where you can quickly grab it to scribble those nutty ideas that pop into your head.

Of course, you are free to cut the unnecessary crap out.

Have fun and try it 😉

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Essential Writers Tips 2

Writing Intention, Writing Strategy, Focus, Communication, Message, Readers, Approach, Writing Tips

When writing, focus on the intention of your writing. What message are you trying to convey? Do your words express your message as you would like it to? What impression would you like the communication to leave on your readers?

By focusing on these things, you place yourself in a state of mind where you are able to sense what you want to express as well as trying to get into your readers head.

This approach makes it easier for your words to flow naturally and unstinted. It’s equally a great strategy to overcome writers’ block and many forms of a writers’ anxiety.

You can check our Writers’ Tips for more tips on writing and the book by Roy Peter Clark;  55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer for further reading.

Are you working on any writing project? What strategies work for you to keep focused on your project? Do share your secret to success with us.

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